It's understandable if Joy McDonald is dogged by fear these days: She faces possible jail time for the death of a chicken.
But McDonald didn't kill the chicken. Supposedly, her two chihuahuas, Peaches and Domino, caused the hen to have a heart attack.
Until her untimely death on April 5, the hen belonged to McDonald's neighbors, George and Nittaya Gamblin, who keep chickens as pets at their Missouri home east of Kansas City.
McDonald's dogs are usually indoors, but George Gamblin said they got loose and were found inside his chicken coop.
“We’ve run them out of here before,” Gamblin told WDAF-TV, adding that his wife injured her knee chasing away the dogs that night.
McDonald, who is studying to become a veterinarian, believes the penned bird suffered a heart attack when the Chihuahuas barked at it while running loose in the rural neighborhood.
Now she's charged with misdemeanor animal abuse. The court records say the dogs killed the chicken but don't explain how. However, the evidence submitted for the case is brutal according to officials.
“There are photos with a poor dead chicken and feathers everywhere,” Lafayette County Prosecutor Kellie Wingate Campbell told the Kansas City Star, which recently broke the story.
If McDonald's convicted, she could be jailed in the county lockup for a year and fined up to $1,000.
The possibility of jail time for McDonald has generated a tremendous amount of interest in the case.
“I think this is asinine,” McDonald told the Kansas City Star. “I just can’t wrap my mind around it. All of this because of a dead chicken.”
At the time, she found it hard to stop from laughing when Gamblin called and allegedly screamed that her dogs literally scared his chicken to death.
But she took a more conciliatory tone when she spoke with KCTV-TV.
"It makes me feel like a horrible person. I just think this has blown way out of proportion. I said, 'I was sorry.' I tried paying for it. I built a dog pen," she told the station.
The Gamblins insist they don't want to see McDonald go to jail, but don't want to see her dogs running around either.
“I don’t want to be paid for the chicken. I just want the dogs off my place and destroying our property,” Gamblin griped to WDAF-TV. “To me, the idea of respecting people’s property is lost in all this.”
Gamblin said that, previously, another dog owned by McDonald also killed some chickens.